Making the Most of Conferences

By Carlye Nelson-Major, Associate Head

If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach their children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning.   –  Dr. Carol Dweck

At The Philadelphia School we believe that a strong home-school partnership is a key factor in determining a student’s academic and social success at school. There is a great deal of power and potential when home and school are united in the support of a child. TPS offers a wide variety of informal and formal opportunities for parents and teachers to build relationships throughout the year – from informal meetings in the schoolyard to the more formal Back-to-School Nights and Parent-Teacher Conferences. 

The teachers look forward to talking with you about how your child is settling into the new school year, about his or her academic progress, and about the texture of his or her current social experiences. Your perspective and insights add depth and richness to conversation.

The Parent-Teacher Conference is an opportunity for you and the teachers to co-create a more nuanced portrait of your child as a student and community member in his or her classroom. 

Here are some tips to make the most of your conference:

  • Reflect on your child before the conference. Come prepared with your questions or concerns.
  • Questions, insights, and concerns are appreciated. Your active participation will enrich the meeting. Be open, honest, and direct with teachers.
  • Remember that children often present themselves differently at school – stay open and curious about that.
  • All children have relative strengths and challenges.  Be prepared to hear about both. 
  • Assume positive intent. Begin and end the conference with positives.
  • It’s normal to feel a bit vulnerable at conferences. Teachers feel that way, too. We all struggle to do our best every day. 
  • Ask for clarification if you need it. Ask for specific examples and suggestions.
  • Appreciate a teacher’s wide and deep perspective. Our teachers have worked with hundreds of children over multiple years. They are, however, still on a quest to learn more about your child.  You can act as a guide and advocate.
  • Remember that you and the teachers are all on the same side – your child’s. 
  • Be on time and respect the time limits of the conference.

I hope you have scheduled appointments with specialist teachers as well. They are looking forward to meeting with you!